Effects of the Invasive Little Fire Ant on Ant Community Composition on UF Campus

Alexandra Nielsen


Poster Pitch

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15 Responses
  1. Ashley Schuler

    It was mentioned that the sites were measured twice, in June and September. As the Little Fire Ant is an invasive species, I was wondering if there were any differences noted in population size or invasion of the ants over the 3 month period inbetween samples. Could the speed of the spread of the ants be related to site differences?

    1. I was thinking similarly, is there a record of ant distribution from when the little fire ant was found versus now? It’d be interesting to see how the little fire ant has spread (if it has spread) since then. Great poster, it was very informative!

      1. Alexandra Nielsen

        There is another ongoing project in the lab that has been sampling the Field and Fork Garden little fire ant population periodically for about 2 years to determine the effectiveness of eradication efforts.
        The Lucky Lab will most likely be following up on the sites where the little fire ant was found for the first times during this project.
        Thank you!

  2. Alexandra Nielsen

    Hi Ashley,
    There were some differences in population but these were not factored into the data as there is an ongoing eradication effort in the Field and Fork Garden. Site differences could definitely play a role in the speed of their spread (undisturbed sites can be more difficult to invade than disturbed sites).

  3. Abigail

    Great project! I did not realize fire ants were invasive. I was just wondering, did the native species decline in the areas invaded by the little fire ant?

    1. Alexandra Nielsen

      Both the little fire ant and the red imported fire ant are invasive in this area. The number of individual workers of other ant species in invaded areas was fairly low, but specific counts were not recorded so it would be hard to say without going through those samples again.

  4. Keara Clancy

    Hi Lexie!

    Great work! It’s awesome to see the finished results from this project. What do you think contributes to the Wasmannia’s success and potential to outcompete native species?


    1. Alexandra Nielsen

      Hi Keara!

      Thank you! I just took a look at your poster, fantastic work.
      I think the presence of multiple queens per nest, their omnivorous diet, and clonal reproduction helps Wasmannia spread and outcompete natives. Jacob’s project looking at interactions between Wasmannia individuals from different colonies will hopefully provide some more insight into the behavioral characteristics contributing to their success.


  5. Sara Zlotnik

    Hi Lexie, thanks for sharing your research with everyone! This was a great talk and a super interesting project!

    I was wondering if you have been able to observe many direct interactions between the invasive and native ant species. Based on either field or lab observations, do you have any predictions about which native species might be competing most directly with the invasive ants? Or which native species might be most negatively affected by aggressive interactions with invasive ants?


    1. Alexandra Nielsen

      Hi Sara,
      Thank you so much!
      I have not seen any direct interactions between little fire ants and other ants in the field, most likely because there are so few individuals of other species in areas where the little fire ant is dominant. In addition, little fire ant individuals are very small, so it can be difficult to notice them unless they are present in large numbers.
      I would predict that Strumigenys boneti competes most directly with little fire ants, as they were frequently found in samples together, although Strumigenys individuals were present in much lower numbers. They would likely compete for food, as the little fire ant is omnivorous.
      Ants in the genus Pheidole were present in significant numbers in the uninvaded sites of the same habitat type as invaded sites, but were fairly rare in samples from invaded sites. I would guess that this difference in population size could be attributed to some degree to interactions with the little fire ant.